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The diagnosis in mental health: labeling and the concept of disease


This article presents results of a Social Science PhD research on practices and policies that shape the way mental illnesses are addressed in psychiatric institutions in Argentina. The ethnographic case study placed in a mental health public hospital in Santa Fe specifically analyses the labeling of patients in such an institution, drawing on debates around nosography in mental health. We critically discuss problems around multiple diagnoses and challenge the category ‘lack of disease awareness’. The methodological techniques we employed in this research include the review of medical record, in-depth interviews and participant observation. We found high prevalence of diagnostic category overlap and an excessive use of the concept of `disease´ to refer to psychic suffering, which stands in stark contrast to the debates around this category that have been developing in the field.

Classification; Diagnosis; Disease; Mental health

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